The original portrait by Amelie Munier-Romilly was apparently painted at Geneva in 1816.
Jane Griffin was born in London on 4 December 1791, the second of the three daughters of John Griffin, a London silk merchant, and his wife, Mary Guillemard, both of Huguenot descent. After his return from his second Arctic land expedition, she married the naval officer and explorer John Franklin on 5th November 1828 at Stanmore in Middlesex. She had been a good friend of Franklin’s first wife, Eleanor, with whom she shared many intellectual interests. Eleanor had died in February 1825, and in marrying Franklin Jane acquired a young step-daughter, also called Eleanor (born June 1824).
Her husband was knighted in 1829 and subsequently stationed in the Mediterranean as captain of a war-ship between 1830 and 1834. During much of this time Lady Jane Franklin travelled extensively in the eastern Mediterranean, Asia Minor and Africa, while the upbringing of her step-daughter had been delegated to Franklin’s sister, Isabella Cracroft. After Franklin was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now known as Tasmania) in 1836, he, Lady Jane and Eleanor lived there as a family group, which also included one of his nieces, Sophy Cracroft, who later became Lady Jane’s devoted travelling companion and helper. Although Lady Franklin was an energetic governor's lady, who tried to help Franklin promote the social and intellectual development of Tasmania (as distinct from the penal colony status of Van Diemen’s Land), she also brought serious criticism on her husband’s head, because of what was perceived to be interference in governmental matters. Due to the machinations of his political enemies Franklin was recalled to England with his reputation tarnished.
After the family’s return in August 1844, he got himself appointed as commander of the Arctic expedition to look for the North-West Passage, which set off in May 1845. When two years had passed with no news of the expedition, Lady Franklin took an active and successful role in publicly putting pressure on the Admiralty to send out ships to search for him over the next few years. She also funded out of her own financial resources the sending-out of a number of ships between 1850 and 1857, the last of which, the Fox, led to the discovery in 1859 of written confirmation of the fate of the expedition and, in particular, Franklin’s death (on 11 June 1847). For her role in the searches the Royal Geographical Society awarded Lady Franklin the patron's medal for 1860, the first and, for many years, the only woman so honoured.
For the rest of her life Lady Franklin occupied herself in promoting the commemoration of her late husband as the heroic discoverer of the North-West Passage, culminating in the installation of the memorial monument to him in Westminster Abbey in 1875. She also took the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the world, including America, Japan, India and Hawaii, which she only finally stopped doing after she had reached the age of 80. She died on 18 July 1875 in London, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.